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Area students find fun in science

By Staff | Jul 26, 2019

Sue Sitter/PCT Participants at this year’s STEM Camp take a photo outside Rugby High School.

Rugby area elementary students explored the great outdoors earlier this week for Rugby Public Schools’ STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math camp, held at Rugby High School.

RHS science teacher Melissa Goddard, who runs the weeklong program, described Wednesday’s lessons to the Tribune.

“We’re focusing today on pollination and pollinators, and what we would or wouldn’t have without pollinators,” Goddard said. “They were surprised to learn that there’s not much left that we could eat or drink without pollinators.”

“We are also working with flowers,” Goddard added. “Monday, we did dissecting flowers and flower parts. We’ve also done things with desert animals, sea turtles, and basically the great outdoors. We’ve got a huge variety of items.”

Goddard smiled as she paused here and there to answer questions from active campers, who were taking a break from their activities to enjoy fresh fruit for a snack. Four RHS student helpers, two high school staffers and a parent made sure the children each got slices of watermelon and reminded them to clean up their eating areas.

Goddard said the camp is held every summer for students entering the third through fifth grade. Signups for the camp take place in late April or early May. Goddard said. “The camp fills up quickly every year, because it’s fun and engaging. The kids are very active with lots of activities,” she indicated.

More than 30 students attended this year’s camp.

Goddard gave a preview for the rest of the week: “We’re also going to work on clouds, identifying clouds and storm safety. We’ve also done a citizen scientist project. We used an app to collect data and send it to NASA for the satellites,” she said. “We taught them how to do that, and they also got to take home a sheet, so if they want to continue to be citizen scientists at home, they can do that.”

Even more excitement was in store.

“Tomorrow, we’ll also have an inflatable dome the kids will be in,” Goddard noted. “It plays a three-dimensional video on the ceiling. It’s very realistic. It makes them feel like they’re right there.” Goddard said the dome would double as a mini-planetarium Thursday for a lesson on the solar system, sky and stars.

“Friday, we have our STEM engineering kits,” Goddard added. “They get to build stuff and it’s a lot of fun.”

“On Friday, we’ll use the dome for the various topics that we’ve been through in the week,” Goddard said. “Lots of really cool videos that bring (the lessons) right to them.”

Goddard said she was glad to have help to organize the camp and keep the campers busy and engaged. Helpers for this year were RHS science instructor Cheryl Jacobs, resource paraprofessional Mindy Nehring, parent Mandy McNeff, and RHS students Levi Tofte, Nate Goddard, Beth Boucher and Kate Heidlebaugh.

“Some of these guys have been with me for all five years that we’ve been doing STEM camp,” Goddard said of the high school students. “They’re getting to be pros at being teachers.”

“Lots of hands make the work light, and I’m very grateful for the help they give me,” Goddard said of the staff and high schoolers.

When asked if they liked STEM camp, the campers answered in loud unison: “Yeah!”

Camper Cory Meckle said his favorite part of STEM camp was “when we get to do the projects.” Meckle said he especially liked “the one we get to do with the glitter to make the bookmarks.”

Camper Eli McNeff said he liked “All of it. I liked making bookmarks.”

Bryce Stewart said he liked STEM camp because of “all the games that we have, like learning games and stuff like that. You get to play the games, and you learn, plus you get art that you learn while doing it.”

Participants displayed their work on track hole boards Friday for parents to view, and each took home a t-shirt to remember their time at camp.

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